Ian could become a “major” hurricane, targeting Florida. What we know
Tropical Storm Ian was expected to gain strength rapidly on Sunday as it moved through the Caribbean towards Cuba and threatened to hit Florida’s west coast hard later in the week.
Ian was 590 miles southeast of Cuba early Sunday, sailing northwest at 12 miles per hour with 50 mph winds. Ian was expected to reach hurricane status on Sunday, then move across western Cuba Monday evening and early Tuesday and track toward the southeast Gulf of Mexico, the National Weather Service said in its 8 a.m. update.
“Ian is expected to become a hurricane later today or tonight and reach major hurricane strength Monday night or Monday night before it reaches western Cuba,” said hurricane expert Brad Reinhart. at the National Hurricane Center.
Major hurricanes are Category 3 or higher on a scale of 1 to 5, with sustained winds over 110 mph. Such storms can cause “devastating” damage, many trees can be snapped or uprooted, and electricity and running water can sometimes be unavailable for days to weeks after the storm has passed, the weather service warns. .
IAN COULD SOON BE A MAJOR HURRICANE:Statewide emergency in Florida declared
Florida’s west coast could be hit by a rare hurricane
AccuWeather meteorologists are warning that the storm could hit the west coast of Florida – a target often missed. The US database shows that around 160 hurricanes, excluding tropical storms, have affected Florida. Only 17 made landfall on the west coast north of the Florida Keys.
Most storms typically track northeast or northwest, not up the coast, said AccuWeather senior weather editor Jesse Ferrell. There is no record of a hurricane having ever fully tracked Florida’s west coast since records began in 1944. But Ian appears to be taking a “very unusual track,” he said.
Florida has recently experienced storms that were hurricanes but downgraded to tropical storms before making landfall, Ferrell said. Elsa in 2021 made landfall just west of Tampa and Eta in 2020 made landfall north of Tampa at Cedar Key. However, the firepower was also not close to a Category 3 storm.
DeSantis declares statewide emergency
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a pre-landfall state of emergency for all 67 counties on Saturday. The statement came after DeSantis’ statement in 24 counties on Friday afternoon.
“Floridians need to remain vigilant and ensure their households are prepared for a potential impact,” DeSantis said.
Ian will then move inland somewhere over the southeastern United States, or may follow near or along parts of the eastern seaboard this weekend, The Weather Channel said, adding that it’s too early to say where Ian will end up, but there could be wind, torrential rain and other impacts spreading to other parts of the East at the end of next week.
Biden authorizes FEMA to help
President Joe Biden also declared a state emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide assistance for protect lives and property.
Biden postponed a planned Sept. 27 trip to Florida due to the storm.
Caymans, Cuba to see Ian’s fury first
But Ian will do damage before he even reaches Cuba. Hurricane conditions are expected to reach Grand Cayman by early Monday, with tropical storm conditions expected by Sunday evening, the weather service said.
Hurricane conditions are possible in the Cuba hurricane watch area by Monday evening or early Tuesday, with tropical storm conditions possible by late Monday. Tropical storm conditions are possible within the Cuba tropical storm watch area Monday evening and Tuesday.
Contributor: Christine Fernando and Claire Thornton, USA TODAY; The Associated Press